Apostrophes and Plurals

A new Victoria's Secret ad abuses an apostrophe, but unfortunately, it's a common error. Here's the scoop on when to use apostrophes to make things plural. (Hint: Almost never.)

Mignon Fogarty
5-minute read
Episode #378

Apostrophes and Plurals

A Caveat: The Quotation Marks

I would be remiss if I didn't point out that Victoria's Secret put "Body's" in quotation marks. Why is that important? Because quotation marks can be used to highlight words that are used in odd or nonstandard ways. The Chicago Manual of Style calls them scare quotes. Therefore, the quotation marks could be considered something of a wink: as if they're saying, "We know we formatted this wrong."

How Could They Fix It?

The frustrating thing to me though, is that they could have easily avoided the problem by using typography instead of punctuation. Because "Body" is a brand name, the correct plural is "Bodys." They could have made the B-O-D-Y big and the S at the end small, and still preserved their brand name while formatting the plural correctly. It was the same frustration I had with the Mercedes ad that talked about "less doors" a few years ago, which they could have easily fixed by treating "door" as a concept and saying "less door" the same way you might talk about a woman showing less leg.  

Victoria's Secret There's 5 Ways

But maybe they just don't care. Victoria's Secret is actually a repeat punctuation and grammar offender. A couple of years ago, they ran an ad that said "There's 5 ways," which is short for "There is 5 ways," which is obviously wrong. It's a common error in speech, but less common in print.

Ah, as a writer named Christiana Ellis said, "Getting upset about marketing speak is like getting upset about the finer points of Pig Latin." And yet still, we do it.

Images: Screenshots


1. pro. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pro (accessed August 8, 2013).

2. pro. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Merriam-Webster, Inc. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pro (accessed August 8, 2013).


About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.